Moan, moan, moan. Another day of flatland slogging across The Vale of Mowbray awaited us. Another grim day on which it looked as if North Yorkshire would be unable to throw off its mantle of low cloud. But first, a hearty breakfast! Replenished, we were then directed by Ian to a footpath which crossed his meadows, and moved us towards the hamlet of Streetlam, cutting out about half a mile of tarmac in the process.
At Streetlam, we left roads and lanes, to squelch down a green lane which opened out into meadows around West Farm.
The young cattle were most inquisitive, which unnerved Julia. Unilaterally, she took a detour to keep well clear of them. Needless to say, this didn’t slow her down; it wasn’t long before I saw her familiar figure ahead – waiting for old slowcoach!
There followed more road, through the village of Danby Wiske, and over the east coast main rail line. As we were about to turn east over farmland, a four-wheel drive pulled up, wound down the window, and the driver informed us that in order to stay on the C2C, we had to walk further south and then follow another lane east. He added that the farmer whose field we were about to enter, didn’t like walkers crossing his land! From our guide book, this palpably was not the case; I checked on the OS map – this showed a reassuring green-dashed line (public right of way – footpath) along our proposed route. So we proceeded as originally planned! Through neck-high rapeseed; ahead of me, at times, Julia disappeared completely from view!
We emerged at the hamlet of Oaktree Hill, where, for two – three hundred metres, we had to follow the busy A167 north, before turning once more to the orient. We now had five to six miles of footpath and track, by and large avoiding tarmac, following a line of farmsteads: White House Farm, Moor House, Northfield Farm, Wray House Farm, Harsley Grove Farm, and Sydal Lodge. We didn’t come across many C2Cers on this stretch, and we wondered how many had skipped the flat bit, and taken the ‘bus from Richmond to Ingleby Arncliffe! However, behind Moor House, there was a table with benches beside an honesty cool box stocked with drinks. And here we bumped into a German couple whom we had passed on the previous day. They were impressively laden with all their camping gear. They resembled a couple of giant snails; the lady of the team was petite, and her rucksack with accoutrements almost scraped the ground!
If we felt that the walk from Rawcar had been a little mundane, we didn’t suspect that all the day’s excitement was going to be compressed into less than 100 yards at the end. And it was a real white knuckle experience: crossing the A19! What a busy road; a dual carriageway with a little grassy break in the central crash barrier. It took us several minutes to complete our two short sprints.
Safely away from the A- road, we dropped into Ingleby Cross and The Blue Bell Inn. It was early afternoon, and the bar was manned by a very blonde young lady who showed us to our room. This was in a single-storey annex by the inn’s car park. The room was tiny, filled by double-bed. There was no wardrobe; no chest of drawers; nowhere to sort out our clothes. Of the two plug points, one was for a bedside light, the other fed an extension cable which skirted half the room to supply a kettle, which was on the floor. The ensuite was tiny and loobrushless (my fastidiousness is getting worse). Our thoughts turned to Joan and Andy, and their reconnaissance trip. What had they been playing at?
Never mind. The weather was dry and reasonably warm; we sat outside and ate our Rawcar Farm packed lunches. Joan and Andy arrived during our repast; we kept our powder dry as to our opinion about their choice of accommodation. We had planned to visit Mount Grace Priory, but the very blonde young lady said that it was a forty minute walk down the A172 and A19. We looked at our OS map, and the only alternative to the main roads was to go further along the C2C, follow a footpath south towards Osmotherly, and then strike west to the priory. This seemed circuitous and at least an hour’s walk each way. So, we had an afternoon nap, and then watched the camping fraternity, through our window, pitch tents whilst rain set in: there was Fritz, whom we had met at Frith Lodge four day’s beforehand, the heavily laden Germans, and a lean couple. We met the latter pair in the evening; they hailed from Bristol, and they did a great deal of long-distance running, for which they were undoubtedly built or adapted.
We ate in the inn’s bar. We opted for the day’s special – sole drizzled with lemon; it was Fish Friday after all! The unfortunate sole had been well and truly battered, which undermined its texture and taste. Never mind; we sidled off to our tiny room consoled by the thought that the morrow would see us climb away from the plain; our eyes and toes would rediscover the joys of ascent and descent.